Dalai Lama reiterates support for games, urges nonviolence

by Reiji Yoshida

NARITA, Chiba Pref. — The Dalai Lama on Thursday again voiced support for China’s hosting of the Olympic Games and called on protesters to stick to nonviolent activities during the chaotic round-the-world torch relay.

“From the beginning, we support the Olympic Games,” the Tibetan spiritual leader told reporters packed into a small hall at a hotel near Narita International Airport during a brief stopover on the way to the U.S.

He said he is opposed to violent protests of any kind because they hurt the freedom of speech — which he said Tibet badly needs but is not allowed under Chinese control.

The Dalai Lama also emphasized that the purpose of his two-week stay in the U.S. is to meet with supporters and promote human compassion and harmony among different religions. The trip, including his short transit in Japan, is not politically motivated in any way, he said.

“I have no particular thing to say here,” he humorously added, prompting reporters to burst into laughter.

But the Dalai Lama responded passionately when he was asked to give a message to the Chinese people about the recent riots in Tibet.

He reiterated that his government in exile and the Tibetan people have sought no independence from China, but only maintenance of their culture, religion and language as well as “realistic autonomy” except for diplomacy and defense. He said the only autonomy that exists now is on paper.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of masterminding the rioting that started March 10 in Lhasa, which he categorically denies.